News

The Swedish Competition Authority clears Axfood/Bergendahl’s, subject to conditions 20.09.21

The Swedish Competition Authority approved Axfood’s acquisition of Bergendahl’s wholesale and a minority share of City Gross food retail after a Phase II review and voluntary committments. Axfood is Swedens second largest food wholeseller and third food retailer with brands such as Hemköp, Willys and Tempo.  The merger will create substantial scale economies and create a stronger number two in the Swedish food retail market.

The Swedish Competition Authority had concerns regarding independent retailers that are not part of any integrated supply chain and that have previously been buying from either of the parties.

The Swedish Competition Authority ultimately cleared the transaction subject to a commitment by the parties to offer equal or better terms to the independent retailers and to offer non-discriminatory terms to new innovative online retailers up until 1 Jan 2030.

RBB Economics assisted Axfood in the context of this merger investigation alongside Kastell law firm. RBB submitted both a detailed local market analysis of the retail markets and a quantitative simulation-model that assessed the joint effects of the merger to both the wholesale and retail markets.

The SCA decision can be found here.

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Webinar highlights: Economic Analysis and the Competition and Markets Authority’s New Merger Assessment Guidelines 14.07.21

On 2 June 2021, RBB Economics held a webinar to discuss the new Merger Assessment Guidelines (MAGs) released by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Simon Bishop held a Q&A session with Mike Walker, which was followed by a panel discussion between Adrian Majumdar, Alexander Baker and Amelia Fletcher, moderated by Ethel Fonseca. Below are the highlights of the webinar and our reactions to some of the issues discussed. The views of Walker indicate that much tougher merger enforcement in the UK is to be expected.

The full document can be downloaded here and the webinar can be watched here

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No Penalty for TasPorts in the ACCC’s first case under the new misuse of market power test 05.05.21

TasPorts is the owner and operator of the majority of ports in Tasmania, and the sole supplier of towage and pilotage services at all major ports on the island.  In its Concise Statement to the Federal Court of Australia, the ACCC alleged that TasPorts had engaged in six types of conduct with the purpose and/or the effect, and/or that was likely to have the effect, of substantially lessening competition in the markets for towage and pilotage services in northern Tasmania.

The Court made orders by consent on 4 May 2021 dismissing all allegations that TasPorts’ conduct had the ‘purpose’ or ‘actual effect’ of substantially lessening competition.  As part of the settlement, TasPorts agreed to admit that its conduct in relation to one allegation had the ‘likely effect’ of substantially lessening competition.  No penalties will be paid by TasPorts. TasPorts has provided the ACCC with an enforceable undertaking, ensuring that Engage Marine – a new entrant in Tasmania – has access to berth space for tug boats in northern Tasmania on reasonable commercial terms, access to port communication systems, and that TasPorts’ charges for regulatory functions at Port Latta are reasonable.

George Siolis, a Partner with RBB Economics in Melbourne, prepared an expert economic  report which examined the nature and extent of any anti-competitive effects of the conduct identified in the ACCC’s Concise Statement.  George was instructed by Arnold Bloch Leibler, acting for TasPorts, and was assisted by Chris Hart and Jackson McDonough in Melbourne and Dr Iestyn Williams in London.

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The EC clears EssilorLuxottica/GrandVision, subject to conditions 26.03.21

The European Commission has conditionally approved EssilorLuxottica’s acquisition of GrandVision, after a Phase II review. EssilorLuxottica is a global manufacturer of spectacle frames, sunglasses, and ophthalmic lenses, and it owns eyewear brands such as RayBan, Oakley, and Persol. GrandVision is a global player in optical retailing, and it operates in more than 40 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia. The Commission had concerns that the transaction could worsen rival opticians’ access to EssilorLuxottica’s eyewear products, thereby weakening retail competition.  The Commission ultimately cleared the transaction subject to a divestment of certain retail activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy, where it maintained concerns.

RBB Economics assisted EssilorLuxottica in the context of this merger investigation, alongside BonelliErede and Latham&Watkins. RBB Economics also advised EssilorLuxottica on the merger’s filing in other jurisdictions.

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Siemens Healthineers’ acquisition of Varian Medical Systems cleared in Phase I subject to conditions 22.02.21

On 19 February, the European Commission (“EC”) approved Siemens Healthineers’ acquisition of Varian Medical Systems following a Phase I investigation subject to conditions.

Varian is one of the leading suppliers of radiation therapy solutions used to plan and deliver radiation therapy treatment. Siemens Healthineers is one of the leading suppliers of diagnostic imaging equipment, which, amongst other, is used to support the planning and delivery of radiation therapy. Given the complementary nature of the parties’ products, the EC’s investigation focussed on potential adverse conglomerate effects on competition resulting from the proposed transaction.

RBB assisted Siemens Healthineers throughout the proceedings and pre-notification phase, including providing a standalone economic report that assessed the merged firm’s ability and incentives to engage in anti-competitive commercial or technical bundling or tying and such practices’ likely effect on competition. The EC accepted the arguments put forward in the RBB report regarding commercial tying and bundling, but raised concerns regarding the inter-operability between the parties’ and competitors’ products voiced by market participants during the EC’s market investigation. Following the parties’ commitment to continue adhering to the DICOM standard and providing the relevant information and technical assistance to ensure inter-operability, the transaction was cleared in phase I.

The EC press release can be found here.

RBB worked alongside law firms Latham & Watkins, Slaughter & May, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

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